Lumumba still to be charged over polling day assault

Three months after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) recommended that President Advisor on Empowerment Odinga Lumumba, be charged over a polling day incident during which a presiding officer was injured, he is yet to make a court appearance.

Questions have been repeatedly raised as to why police have stalled this investigation even though Lumumba had publically acknowledged that he had pushed the woman, Onika Beckles, and had also damaged the cellular phone of an Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) observer.

Beckles’ attorney Nigel Hughes told this newspaper last evening that he had read in the press in December last year that charges were recommended but neither he nor his client had heard anything from the police since. According to Hughes, though he is not surprised at the police’s lack of attention to this case, he expected investigators to pursue the matter.

Turning his attention to a $200,000 lawsuit he had filed against Lumumba on behalf of Beckles, Hughes said that no defence was ever filed and as such he has requested a date for the matter to be heard by a judge.

Beckles had recounted to this newspaper on November 28 last (Elections Day) that she had refused a PPP/C observer, who had no identification, entry into her polling station at Lot 455 Aubrey Barker Street, South Ruimveldt, and moments later Lumumba turned up with three other men.

She said the politician verbally abused a policewoman who was securing the gate. Beckles then went to him to explain what had transpired and while speaking to her in an aggressive tone, she alleged, Lumumba pushed her into a grill door.

During the commotion, Beckles said, Lumumba grabbed the cellular phone an EAB observer was using to record the episode and threw it to the ground damaging it.

The woman later obtained a medical from the Georgetown Hospital, which showed she had sustained an injury to her back. A report was then made to the police.

Lumumba in his defence had told this newspaper that the episode was an accident and that he had pushed the woman to get past her since as a party candidate he had a right to be in the polling station.

He said that he was unaware that the woman sustained an injury.

Lumumba also later replaced the damaged cell phone.

Fr Malcolm Rodrigues, Chairman of the EAB, had said that the incident was “quite disturbing” and warranted a lawyer’s letter.

Following a police investigation, a file was sent to the DPP’s chambers and in December last it was recommended that Lumumba be charged with assault and a breach of the peace.

Later, Beckles who sustained an injury to her back when she was pushed into a grill door, later started legal proceeding to claim for damages in excess of $100,000 for trespass; damages in excess of $100,000 for slander committed by Lumumba; exemplary damages and costs.

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